Sheryl Sandberg Talks About Single Mothers This Mother’s Day

A year after her husband’s death, Sheryl Sandberg wrote at length about the harsh reality of being a single mom

2 min read
 File photo of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, left, and her husband, David Goldberg, CEO of SurveyMonkey in Sun Valley, Idaho.  (Photo: AP)
Before Dave died, I had a partner who shared both the joys and responsibilities of parenting. Then, without any warning, I was on my own.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO

A year after her husband’s death, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who has often talked about having male life partners who are also partners at home, and in careers, has written at length about the tough reality of being a single parent.

Here are some excerpts:

On Mother’s Day, we celebrate all moms. This year I am thinking especially of the many mothers across the country and the world who are raising children on their own. People become single parents for many reasons: loss of a partner, breakdown of a relationship, by choice. One year and five days ago I joined them. For me, this is still a new and unfamiliar world. Before, I did not quite get it. I did not really get how hard it is to succeed at work when you are overwhelmed at home. I did not understand how often I would look at my son’s or daughter’s crying face and not know how to stop the tears.

Situations of feeling bogged down by mountainous responsibilities, and the lonely feeling that your partner is no longer there as a shoulder to lean on, were some of the heart touching things that Sandberg talked about.

How often situations would come up that Dave and I had never talked about and that I did not know how to handle on my own. What would Dave do if he were here? [...] For many single mothers, this is the only world they know. Each and every day they make sacrifices, push through barriers, and nurture beautiful families despite the demands on their time and energy. I realise how extremely fortunate I am not to face the financial burdens so many single mothers and widows face.

Another often-ignored point that her post raised was about how the world, through its customs and social obligations, and schools with their “father events” rudely reminds single mothers about their loss.

I never understood how often the world would remind my children and me of what we don’t have – from father-daughter dances to Parent Night at school. Until we lost Dave, my brother said that he too did not realise how many “father” events there were at their public school in Houston and how hard they must be for the many children without fathers.

She also reminded us that we should give special thanks to all the single mothers in the world, and try to make their lives easier in whichever way we can.

We need to understand that it takes a community to raise children and that so many of our single mothers need and deserve a much more supportive community than we give them. We owe it to them and to their children to do better. We must do more as leaders, as coworkers, as neighbours, and as friends. Being a mother is the most important – and most humbling – job I’ve ever had. As we rightly celebrate motherhood, we should give special thanks to the women who are raising children on their own. And let’s vow to do more to support them, every day.

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